• Published 3rd Jun 2019
  • 1,710 Views, 215 Comments

Where We Belong - BlazzingInferno

Eternal night shrouds Equestria, and an even worse fate awaits Rarity. Or so she’s been led to believe.

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Bonus Chapter: Iron Author Version

Author's Note:

Where We Belong got its start at the 2018 Everfree Northwest convention, specifically during a writing competition called Iron Author. The rules of Iron Author are simple enough: given three random words that must appear in the story (fire, palpable, and brooch in this case), write a complete story in two hours or less. What follows is my submission to that contest, very lightly edited but otherwise intact. Thanks for reading!

The wind howled in Rarity’s ears as she fell. Her tears rocketed upwards as she did the opposite, plunging tail-first towards oblivion. Queen Nightmare’s chariot was already a distant spec in the cloudy skies above, and still she fell.

“Please, my Queen! Please forgive me!”

Her own memories answered her, and not with mercy. The inquisition had happened so fast, starting with the footpony guards napping during their patrol of the castle grounds while a mysterious purple pony and her dragon whelp intruded on Queen Nightmare’s domain. Surely a pony such as herself was above such accusations of treason and sedition. Rarity, the official steward of the castle, the only pony besides Her Majesty that commanded bows and courtesies from the staff, couldn’t have been more above repute if she wore a crown herself.

Or so she’d assumed.

The cold wind stung, but not as much as that moment a mere twelve hours ago when the guards came for her, and not the palace guards that wore armor she herself had designed. No, it’d been the military guards, the thuggish stallions that carried the Queen’s flag across lands savage and disobedient. They’d come for her. They’d brought her to grandest of the royal chariots where the Queen herself waited, wearing her deepest, most dangerous frown, the expression that exiled traitorous ponies to the diamond mines, or to fight one of the many warring factions on the borders.

But surely, Rarity had thought, a loyal servant like her was above such severe punishments. Surely dealing with intruders to the castle was the domain of the guards and not her. Surely the Queen would look upon her with a sated nod once she explained herself.

“M-my Queen, how may I serve—”

The mouth gag came first, followed by ropes about her legs. Queen Nightmare’s frown widened into a wicked grin that always preceded the harshest of sentences. “Have you heard of The Pit, my traitorous servant?”

The wind whipped her around in the air, and suddenly she was diving headfirst towards the swirling vortex of white clouds waiting at the bottom of the canyon. Of course she’d heard of The Pit, everypony who’d spent a day in the kingdom had. No retelling of the legend could measure up to the Queen herself chanting the tale as the guards wrapped her in layer upon layer of jewel-encrusted ropes. Even the gag in her mouth was made of fine brooches fitted with gems worth more than a peasant family would earn in a lifetime. She was being chained up in the finest pieces of the royal treasury.

“When I conquered the Dragon Lands,” Nightmare Moon had said, “I discovered what the dragons did with their prisoners, with the monsters that even brutish creatures such as themselves couldn’t control.”

The whirling mists burned Rarity’s wet eyes, but the wind no longer bothered her. Instead she simply heard her old master, her ruler and Queen whispering in her ear: “the worst dragons of all time were thrown in The Pit, a prison from which they could never escape. Let’s hope they’re still hungry. Let’s hope they don’t mind a little pony with their gems.”

The world vanished, but not into darkness. Snowflakes peppered her face, and the distant tops of pine trees broke through the clouds of blinding white waiting below.

At the last moment, as her current screams of terror mixed with her recollection of Nightmare Moon’s peals of laugher, her eyes snapped shut. This was the end. All her years of faithful service, her complete reconstitution of the castle’s fine tapestries, her work designing armor for palace guards and dresses for nobility boiled down to a grave with fire-breathing dragons, the worst monsters the world had ever known, save perhaps for the legends of Day Breaker.

And then she landed in the snow, sinking for over a minute through the seemingly bottomless drifts before finally coming to a stop somewhere cold and dark.

“I’m… alive? Dear Moons I’m—” sweet elation turned to deepest horror in a heartbeat “—I’m in The Pit, waiting to get eaten by… by…”

The ground shook underneath her, starting in her back and vibrating all the way to her hooves. Maybe that was just her thundering heart. Maybe all the dragons had gone. Surely they’d broken out of this place long ago, or starved. Surely a quiet, respectful end awaited her here at the bottom of this snow drift.

“Oh please please don’t let it be—”

Bright sunlight burned her eyes as something brushed the snow away. Fresh snow rained down from the cloudy heavens above, quite unlike the roiling storm of The Pit’s surface. A dark shape hovered over her, cast into sharp relief by the sunlight.

She couldn’t scream anymore. She couldn’t think. Her palpable fear dissolved into a simplistic thought: what a waste, eating precious gems. No wonder the Queen exiled all dragons from her realm. No wonder they were all but extinct.

A claw that looked the size of a cart wheel blotted out the sunlight, and suddenly her fear was back. “Please don’t touch me! Please don’t!”

The claw paused for a moment, almost as if her words meant something to the mindless creature about to devour her. Could dragons understand ponies? The legends weren’t clear on the matter. History had distilled dragons into gluttonous monsters that breathed fire and devoured gems, reason enough to avoid them at all costs.

A deep voice, deeper even than Nightmare Moon’s, broke the silence. “But then you’ll freeze.”

Rarity blinked. She didn’t hear mindless hunger in that voice. Still, dragons were monsters. “B-better to f-freeze than to be eaten b-by…”

Her teeth were chattering. The snow underneath her back had started to melt, and ice cold water was soaking through her finely brushed coat. If she could only distract the beast long enough, she’d lose consciousness before he thought better of taking advice from his supper.

The claw touched her quivering leg and slid along its length, slicing through the golden chains binding her, but feeling no sharper then a knitting needle against her skin.

Her latest scream died in her throat as the chains fell away, scattering priceless gems in the snow. As soon as she felt the chilly air embrace her, as soon as her newfound freedom of movement registered, she was on her hooves and running. She ducked behind a tree, each panting breath a cry of relief mixed with horror. The beast touched her. The dragon freed her. What did this mean? Did he expect her to run and be hunted down like an animal? Was she going to be left alone just for the other, less fortunate dragons to find and consume?

Steadying her nerves as best she could, she leaned around the tree trunk to get a better look at the thing that dared toy with her dignity.

A purple, scaled body the size of a carriage was hunched over the snow drift, calmly sweeping the gems and gold into the crook of its arm. “Are you hungry?”

Rarity ducked behind the tree. Surely the beast was talking to himself, or to another dragon waiting to pounce.

“Shrubs grow near my home. Ponies eat plants, don’t they?”

She nodded, despite behind completely hidden by the tree. She hadn’t eaten since the guards took her. Just thinking about the royal kitchens made her stomach rumble. Were there any cooks left, or had this latest purge of ‘traitors’ cleared out the entire castle?

The snow crunched under the dragon’s enormous feet. It was coming closer! Her heart thundered in her chest, but she didn’t bolt. Surely she had enough self control to stand her ground in the face of this curious yet completely unwelcome advance. She set her jaw and turned up her nose. “Is this a game, dragon? Am I to be your plaything before you or one of your kind eats me?”

The dragon’s laugh echoed through the woods, loud and yet devoid of the menace she’d come to associate with the sound. “Look, pony, I don’t know why you’re down here. Maybe you fell, maybe some monster pushed you in, but let’s get things straight: dragons eat gems when we can, plants when we can’t. The worst thing that can happen to you down here is freezing to death, and that’d be a shame. I haven’t had another creature to talk to in… How many moons has it been? Does Torch still rule the Dragon Lands?”

Rarity relaxed by the slightest of degrees, her hind legs losing some of their bowstring tension. “The Q… Nightmare Moon rules the Dragon Lands, along with all of Greater Equestria.”

“Who?” The dragon’s warm breath blew across her ear.

She screamed and fell sideways into the snow. Seconds later she glared up at the sleek, scale-covered face peeking around the tree. “Don’t touch me, you… you beastly…”

The dragon’s smile disappeared, but not into a terrible snarl like she’d expected the moment her biting demand escaped her mouth. Instead he paced around the tree until he was in full view, standing on his two feet and offering his two clawed hands in what almost looked like a contrite gesture. “Sorry. I don’t mean any harm. Please can we get out of the woods? I’ve got scales, but even I get cold. You must be freezing.”

Her shivering redoubled, now that the adrenaline boost from his latest insult to her person was abating. She picked herself up and tried to adopt a dignified pose, or at least as much of one as a pony who’s been ceremoniously dumbed into the snow in the most compromising of positions can. “Very well. I am indeed cold and hungry. I suppose I could impose upon your… hospitality.”

The dragon’s smile returned, again exuding kindness and not malice. “I’m Spike. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss…?”

She watched him bow until his snout touched the snow. This wasn’t a dragon, or at least not the kind of fearsome legend. “Rarity.”

- - -

Spike’s home lacked the grandeur Rarity had grown to expect under the Queen’s fearsome rule, but that hardly mattered in her current state of cold and undress. The snowy woods where she’d landed turned out to lay in the center of a deep valley surrounded by dizzyingly high cliffs. The only break in the wall of rock locking them in was a jagged cave opening not much taller than Spike himself. Inside awaited a roaring fire, stores of herbs and mushrooms harvested from a small garden outside, and a few tattered curtains that divided the modest space into rooms.

She settled herself by the fire, relishing the scent of warm embers more than the finest vintages of cider sitting in her personal stores back at the castle. What would become of her possessions? Would the Queen have her fine dresses and furniture burned? She might as well set fire to the entire castle, considering how much of a hoof Rarity had a had in its decoration and upkeep. Not that any of those things mattered now, she supposed. She’d been more than exiled. She’d been ‘disposed of’ in the legendary Pit, to be devoured by dragons. Ponies said it was the fate that Nightmare Moon would have preferred for her scheming, treacherous sister, if circumstances would have allowed.

“Hungry?” Spike held out a bowl of greens.

Rarity’s stomach wouldn’t say no. Decorum barely won out over her desire to bury her face in the bowl instead of nibbling each leaf politely. “Thank you, Spike.”

He smiled again. “It’s no trouble. There hasn’t been a pony down here in ages. I used to keep track of the days, but I ran out of room to count.”

She followed his gaze to the cave walls, all of which were covered in tick marks. “Ponies say dragons condemned the worst of their kind to The Pit. What horrible thing did you do, to earn such a fate?”

Spike laughed. “Is that what they’re saying now? Wow, it really has been ages, especially if some pony was able to kick Torch off the throne. No, that’s not it at all.”

Rarity’s ears folded back, and she put on her best glare. The dragon’s warm laugher and welcoming smile were infectious. But such things were beneath her. She’d dedicated her life to service of the Queen after all. She’d set aside family, friends, and all but the barest forms of her own cutie mark-given talent to serving the pony that ruled over all the lands. She’d chosen class and prestige. And now she was sitting with a dragon in the bottom of a pit, exiled and imprisoned. At least he hadn't eaten her, or at least not yet.

Spike sat next to her by the fire. Her fur stood on end as his colossal form came within mere hoof-breadths of her own. Still she sat, unwilling to move further away from the warmth just for dignity’s sake. “That’s not why the dragons built The Pit. That’s not what they used it for.”

She watched his smile turn sullen as he stared into the cave’s depths. In between the curtain walls she could see an inky blackness of someplace deeper where the fire’s light couldn’t reach. “Then what?”

Spike sighed. “Greed.”

Rarity turned to him, eyebrows raised. “Pardon?”

“Dragons aren’t like ponies, at least not as far as I remember. We get bigger when we’re greedy, and dumber too. The dragon sorcerers of old made The Pit to hold the greediest of dragons, the ones that threatened our culture.”

She held back a scoff. ‘Dragon’ and ‘culture’ hardly belonged in the same sentence, quite like ‘Nightmare Moon’ and ‘Queen’ if she were to be honest herself.

“Greedy dragons got The Pit, and they’d be stuck in here until they got their priorities straight. It never took long, considering how there’s no gems in here, and the cliff walls are enchanted so you can’t just climb or fly out.”

Her ears shot up. “There’s a way out?”

Spike nodded. “That way.”

He leveled a claw at the blackness waiting beyond the curtains. “It’s tiny, though. Only small, greed-free dragons can fit.”

“Well then, I see why you’ve been—” why was she about to quip at him for being greedy?

“Except I don’t want to go out there. Greed used to be why dragons got thrown in here, but me? I was the opposite… I was too nice for Torch’s tastes. I challenged his daughter once, and…”

His great shoulders shrugged. “Go on through the cave. You’ll fit just fine. I’m not going back out there. I’m hoarding gems instead of eating them so I stay too big, so I don’t even go out there accidentally.”

Rarity’s gaze softened. Hesitatingly at first, she touched his arm with her hoof. “Well… I’m not wanted out there either, really. I don’t suppose… you’d like some company? Just for a little while, you understand?”

Spike smiled again, and this time Rarity couldn’t help joining him. “That sounds amazing!”

And for an hour it was. And then for a week. And then for a year. And then for two lifetimes.

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Comments ( 15 )

Huh. I had no idea that this grew from an Iron Author entry. I do much prefer the expanded version, especially the ending... though, technically speaking, no one said they never escaped over the course of those lifetimes.

In any case, thank you for a wonderful tale. Sparity takes a little work for me to accept it, but you got it to flow beautifully.

So much, started from so little. Wonderful work! :moustache::duck:

I didn't realize this was your Iron Author entry. I think you had mentioned it to me a while back. Honestly, I love both versions, but obviously the expanded one gives us a little... well, more. Not much else to say there. Great job!

Quite the engaging tale.

Most excellent.

You know, I really think I'd like to see a sequel for this world. Sweetie Belle alone changed so much...

I think half the reason I included this here was to get to say "lookit what I did in two hours!" :rainbowdetermined2:

I should have a retrospective (and a little something more) out in the next couple days.

Oh, Spike x Rarity are heavily implied as a couple by the end of the show. At the end of episode 19 of season 9, after Spike said that he will always have his Rarity time, Pinkie said, "Oh, so that's how it works," in a very suggestive tone. Then there's Rarity going out of her way to fiercely defending Spike when he's in danger in the final battle (when it could have been any other pony), and when it's about to be their end before reinforcements arrive, Rarity specifically hugs Spike tightly. Then when they're saved, he opens his eyes and grins up at Rarity. Then there's the song of the last episode, where Rarity smiles up at Spike while everyone else is smiling up at Twilight, and Spike notices and has a content smile on his face (eyes closed). Also, Rarity's first image near the end of the song of all the friends made is another dragon-Garble. I'm looking at this from a neutral standpoint and basing this on all the evidence of subtle hints that is shown. The only reason that Hasbro won't outright say it is because of all the controversy surrounding the pairing. After all, it'd be bad for business if they were to lose half of their fanbase over it.

Would you mind spoiler-texting that, since it's information about unreleased episodes? :duck:

Oh. ...Oops. I honestly didn't think these were spoilers, seeing as the episodes are already out.

Also, have you heard of the Sparity fanfic called, "For The Ones We Love"? If so, I was thinking that you might be interested in writing a story like that (with the setting being 20 years in the future, right after the show MLP: FiM ends). If you need an ultimate villain, then it all started with an epic battle between the creator of Planet Equuis and a primordial evil known as Legion...

I haven’t encountered that one, but I’ll look it up :twilightsmile:

Cool! ...That said, I'd suggest looking for a clip of the last episode (season 9, episode 26) on YouTube with both Rarity and Spike in it if you do indeed decide to make a story set right after the show ends. You'll want to know what they look like in that episode, as it is set 20 years in the future. I'll say this: Spike is a handsome freaking hoss, and Rarity looks slightly older but still has her good looks.

Thanks for catching that!

I hope you enjoyed the story overall :twilightsmile:

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